Shell Malaysia marks 25 years of success in Bintulu

(From left) Omar, Majang, Tiong, Wilfred, Abang Johari, Lo and Shell senior officials officially marking SMDS’ 25th anniversary.

BINTULU: This year marks a historical milestone for Shell’s Gas-To-Liquids (GTL) plant – known as the Shell Middle Distillate Synthesis Malaysia (Shell MDS Malaysia) in Bintulu for its 25th anniversary celebration.

To commemorate this event, Shell hosted an appreciation dinner highlighting the plant’s rich history and the journey Shell MDS Malaysia shared with the Bintulu community.

Commissioned in 1993, Shell MDS Malaysia is the world’s first, one-of-its kind GTL plant. Backed by 20 years of research, Shell pioneered the GTL plant’s technology that saw it convert liquefied natural gas (LNG) to ultra-pure liquid fuels, lubricants, chemicals and solid waxes.

It has the capacity to convert approximately three million cubic meters per day of natural gas into some 14,700 barrels per day of ultra-pure GTL products.

Today, Shell MDS Malaysia boasts an output capacity of 500,000 tonnes of GTL products per annum and exports its products to over 50 countries internationally.

“These achievements would not have been made possible without the strong support from the Sarawak State government.

“The local government recognises the potential of the Shell MDS Malaysia plant and its socio-economic benefits and impact on growth, not just for Bintulu but for Sarawak as a whole,” said Shell Malaysia chairman Datuk Iain Lo during the launch of the dinner.

Among those present were Sabah Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Wilfred Madius Tanggau and his wife Datin Seri Panglima Dr Jainah Sindian, Bintulu MP Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing, Samalaju assemblyman Majang Renggi and SMDS general manager Tom Wong.

Lo said the opening of Shell MDS Malaysia plant helped accelerate the development of the Bintulu district with increase in job opportunities for locals and potential development of the township in terms of facilities and infrastructure.

Currently, Shell MDS Malaysia employs over 400 staff, of which nearly 90 per cent are Sarawakians. This development of local talent was achieved as part of Shell’s mission to support the community it operates in and to transform the plant’s initial workforce from predominantly expatriate reliant to locally driven.

In 2011, several members of Shell MDS Malaysia team in Bintulu were handpicked to be a part of one of the most complex and challenging energy projects ever commissioned – Shell’s Pearl GTL plant in Qatar.

Using the Bintulu plant’s blueprint, this team of senior technical talent assisted in the design, commissioning and start-up of the new plant in Qatar. Currently, the Pearl GTL plant in Qatar is the world’s largest source of GTL products.

“Taking inspiration from what we achieved with our home-grown engineers at Pearl Qatar, we will continue to develop our local talents and give them exciting opportunities to showcase their skills. On that note, we are proud to announce the renewal of our talent development programme named Projek Link (an industrial welding programme), in conjunction with our 25th anniversary celebrations,” Lo said in a statement.

Projek Link, which commenced in 2012 is an initiative aimed at helping students who face financial and academic challenges to upskill themselves.

Currently, Projek Link has produced close to 100 industry certified wielders who have made their mark in various companies in and outside of Malaysia.

Shell MDS Malaysia and Bintulu Vocational College signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to extend the Projek Link programme.

The signing ceremony on Monday evening was witnessed by Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.

“Currently we have identified a skill gap for trained scaffolders in Bintulu, and we hope to partner with Kolej Vokasional Bintulu and our current business partners to develop a training programme endorsed by the Department of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH).

“We are optimistic that our efforts would not only help meet the needs of Shell but also support the development of employment opportunities and economic growth for local community here in Bintulu,” Shell MDS Malaysia managing director Omar Sheikh said. To compliment the welding programme, Shell MDS Malaysia is actively exploring new training programmes to upskill the Bintulu community in ensuring higher employability.

These programmes will contribute towards Bintulu’s aspiration of being an industrial town by 2025.

GTL products are virtually free from sulphur and aromatics, and highly biodegradable.

The wax produced at Shell MDS Malaysia – Sarawax, named in honour of the state it is produced in, is an important component utilised in various industries including the manufacturing of everyday products such as ink toners, candles, crayons, aviation and vehicle parts, food packaging and even cosmetics.

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